The Silence and the Salvage: Losing the Space Shuttle Columbia and Recovering Its Pieces

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When a space shuttle reentered the atmosphere, the astronaut crew watched the red and pink plasma streaking past their windows. They referred to the fiery heat as "the beast." Over the western United States, the beast found its way into a crack in the wing of the shuttle Columbia. NASA lost contact with the returning space shuttle 200,000 feet over Dallas and fifteen minutes from home. Its charred pieces rained down on east Texas. The Silence and the Salvage gives the inside story of how NASA reacted to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. Join Lamar Russell as he describes the formation of a Rapid Response Team to comb the forests and grasslands of Texas. This fascinating memoir portrays those who went out to Texas and the western states, who picked up the pieces and mourned over each one. NASA's individuals teamed with other government agencies, enduring stress, cold, and grief, while managing the collection and identification of Columbia's parts from a 200-mile long debris field in Texas, as well as searching the ground track from the California coast across the southwestern states. This personal account provides a touching viewpoint of those who performed the cleanup. The Silence and the Salvage describes the mournful atmosphere of the receiving hangar where mud-encrusted shuttle pieces arrived to be identified and cataloged and the personal toll of working under conditions of stress and cold. Lamar Russell provides insight into one of the most fascinating agencies and the capability, efficiency, and knowledge of the people who created documentation methods and managerial processes on the fly to salvage the remains of a valuable spacecraft and its honorable crew.
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